The sometimes controversial and well known Chicago priest and presbyteral leader, Fr. Robert “Red” Mc Laughlin has died.
Rev. Robert McLaughlin, 64, popular priest, Irish tenor
January 26, 2005
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Staff Reporter
Chicago area churches weren’t the only place where the affable Rev. Robert McLaughlin could command attention.
The Roman Catholic priest’s crimson hair, “leprechaun” grin and Irish tenor nearly made him as big of a star as U2’s Bono when he hit the Dublin pubs nearly 40 years ago.
“The crowds were mesmerized by him. We’d all be like, ‘OK, Red, you sung your two songs, now sit down.’ And he’d laugh. He had the great facility to be able to laugh at himself,” said the Rev. Charlie Rubey of Catholic Charities.
“He just had a magnetic personality. People just loved him.”
Rev. McLaughlin, the outspoken and popular former pastor of Holy Name Cathedral, died Monday from a heart attack while playing golf in Naples, Fla.
He was 64.
The West Side native had left for vacation on Sunday and had planned to return to Chicago on Saturday so he could continue his job as pastor of Mary, Seat of Wisdom Parish in Park Ridge.
Dubbed “little brother” because of his short stature, Rev. McLaughlin was dedicated to spreading the church’s message to the young and old.
And when he was at odds with his colleagues at the Archdiocese of Chicago, he wasn’t afraid to speak his mind.
“He was a man of strong opinions and good opinions,” Bishop Timothy Lyne said.
“He was a man of conviction and principal. It takes us all to be the church, and he wanted to make sure all of the voices were heard,” agreed his older brother, Rev. Ed McLaughlin.
Soon after Cardinal Francis George arrived in Chicago in 1997, Rev. Robert McLaughlin was one of many priests who criticized George for his management style and his preference to individual confessions over general absolution – a Roman Catholic tradition which allows parishioners to achieves penance through communal services.
Rev. McLaughlin also disagreed with George’s command to refuse communion to homosexuals.
Still, he didn’t blame George for not extending his assignment after 12 years of service at Holy Name Cathedral in 2001.
“We have disagreed on some things, but he [George] has been gracious. I get the impression that he is not a person who is vindictive. I think he is a person who enjoys the give and take of discussion,” Rev. McLaughlin told the Sun-Times when George reassigned him.
The Chicago Cubs fan attended St. Frances of Rome Catholic School in Cicero before continuing his studies at Quigley Seminary North and St. Mary of the Lake Seminary in Mundelein. He was ordained in 1966.
Rev. McLaughlin went on to receive a master’s degree in speech and communications at Northwestern University in 1971. He later honed his leadership skills after receiving a master’s degree in organizational development at Loyola University in 1987.
While serving as an associate pastor at Holy Name Cathedral between 1966 and 1976, he taught religion and communications to Quigley students. Rev. Robert McLaughlin later served as an associate pastor at Mater Christi Parish in North Riverside and as pastor of Our Lady of Good Counsel Parish in Chicago.
He was appointed rector-president of Niles College of Loyola University in 1984.
The late Cardinal Joseph Bernardin appointed Rev. McLaughlin as pastor of Holy Name Cathedral in 1990.
"He was a ‘big little man,’ " Rev. Andrew Greeley said of Rev. McLaughlin, who’d often dress up as a leprechaun in the city’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. “He was one of the real priest leaders in the archdiocese. I’m not sure we’re growing that kind anymore. It’ll be tough without him.”
George said Rev. McLaughlin’s death will leave “a great void” in the archdiocese.
“For Father McLaughlin loved the people he served, and the devotion he showed to the parishes he pastored made him a much-loved pastor,” George said.
In addition to his brother, Rev. Ed McLaughlin, other survivors include his brother Jack and 14 nieces and nephews.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete.